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Leaders demand action against KFS as ferry tragedy victims buried

Saturday October 19 2019

Ferry tragedy victims burial

Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka at Mung'ala village in Makueni County for the burial of Mariam Kighenda and her daughter Amanda Mutheu, who drowned in the Indian Ocean three weeks ago, October 19, 2019. PHOTO | PIUS MAUNDU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

PIUS MAUNDU
By PIUS MAUNDU
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Leaders called for the prosecution of Kenya Ferry Services officials at the burial on Saturday of Mariam Kighenda and her daughter Amanda Mutheu, who drowned in the Indian Ocean three weeks ago.

Those who spoke at the ceremony at Mung'ala Village, Makueni County, accused the officials of causing the deaths.

The mother and child drowned on September 29 when their car plunged into the ocean after sliding off MV Harambee under unclear circumstances.

PUNISHMENT

Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr said KFS officials in charge of the ill-fated ferry should be held accountable.

"It is clear to me that this was a case of criminal negligence. KFS officials should have raised the ramp of the ferry as required. They should be arrested immediately and charged with criminal negligence," he said.

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To prevent similar accidents, Mr Musyoka said the government should speedily install a suspension bridge.

"The bridge should have a plaque with the names of Amanda, Mariam and all those who have perished inscribed in their honour," he said.

Mr Kilonzo Jnr regretted that the ferries are faulty and therefore a danger to many Kenyans.

The senator, a lawyer, pledged to provide legal services for Mr Wambua's family in a suit against the KFS.

Ferry tragedy victims burial

Mr John Wambua, whose wife Mariam Kighenda and daughter Amanda Mutheu drown in the Indian Ocean, chats with a relative during their burial at Mung'ala village in Makueni County on October 19, 2019. PHOTO | PIUS MAUNDU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

PREPAREDNESS

Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana described the deaths as a wake-up call on Kenya's state of disaster preparedness.

"Thorough investigations should be done to establish what exactly caused the accident. These should be the last deaths at the ferry," he said.

Makueni member of Parliament Dan Maanzo said, "The government should set aside money to repair all the ferries because we understand they are faulty."

Makueni Woman Representative Rose Museo appealed for prayers for the family.

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia's condolence message was read by Mr Julius Sigera, Director of the Shipping and Maritime department.

The minister said the government was committed to deterring such incidents.

Machakos Deputy Governor Adelina Mwau, Kenya Medical Training College board chairman Philip Kaloki, National Government Affirmative Action Fund board chairman Regina Ndambuki and Kaiti MP Joshua Kimilu also attended the ceremony.

EULOGIES

At the service at AIC Kima near the home, the family and mourners described the deaths as most painful.

Ms Sheila Karembo, who led a team of Mariam's friends from Mombasa, said that they lost a great friend.

They eulogised the 35-year-old as a loving and God-fearing woman who did not hold drudges.

Ms Rose Kituku said her granddaughter, four-year-old Amanda, was the family's source of joy.

"I will always miss you," an inconsolable Ms Kituku said in a statement a relative read on her behalf.

Mariam and Amanda left behind widower John Wambua and 10-year-old boy Alvin Kioko.

Ferry tragedy victims burial

Mourners at Mung'ala village in Makueni County for the burial of Mariam Kighenda and her daughter Amanda Mutheu, who drowned in the Indian Ocean three weeks ago, October 19, 2019. PHOTO | PIUS MAUNDU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

LONG SEARCH

The family thanked the public for prayers and support during the 13-day search for the bodies, the government for stepping in, the media for consist reporting and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho for helping with the hiring of a team of divers from South Africa.

The South African divers from SubSea worked closely with their Kenya Navy counterparts to locate and eventually recover the ill-fated vehicle.

Mr Wambua's family and the leaders also thanked Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, Prof Kibwana, and Likoni MP Mishi Mboko for their support.

Mr Sonko offered the hearse which ferried the bodies from Jocham Hospital mortuary in Mombasa, and a number of buses which transported mourners from the county.

Ms Mary Kagendo, a cleric who said she was a prophetess, claimed she helped the divers identify the spot where the vehicle was found.

Mr Luka Mbati, who spoke on behalf of the family, heaped praises on her, saying she intervened after the family was duped by people who claimed they were divers.

He said they had been on the verge of losing more money to elders who said they would offer sacrifices to enable recovery of the bodies.

Ferry tragedy victims burial

Mourners are pictured in Mung'ala Village, Makueni County, on October 19, 2019 during the burial of Mariam Kighenda and her daughter Amanda Mutheu, who drowned in the Indian Ocean three weeks ago. PHOTO | PIUS MAUNDU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

BOARD DISBANDED

The incident exposed KFS’ inability to deal with emergencies as it has no rescue team and is unlikely to have one soon.

It also emerged that the organisation has been operating unseaworthy vessels way past their sell-by dates, putting the lives of thousands of Kenyans at risk.

Following the accident, President Uhuru Kenyatta disbanded the entire KFS board of management. The chairman, former Taita-Taveta Senator Dan Mwanzo, was appointed in June.

The members were Ms Daula Omar, Ms Naima Amir, Ms Rosina Mruttu and Mr Philip Ndolo. Ms Omar and Ms Amir were appointed in June last year and Ms Mruttu in November 2015.

Mr Mwanzo’s daily presence during the mission to recover the vehicle did not save him from the axe.

Police have so far questioned seven people, including the ferry’s coxswain, two deckhand officials, a ramp controller and two guards from the Guard Force.

The seven recorded statements with officers of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations at Likoni Police Station.